“…then shalt thou see clearly” (Luke 6:42)
“The Bible [or Jesus] says you shouldn’t judge.” This is a favorite phrase of many. But what does it really mean? By way of illustration, permit me a couple paragraphs as a lead-in.
The founding fathers of America faced a great challenge with respect to law. The Declaration of Independence wasn’t hard to write. Grievances were amassed, organized, written, and delivered. It took very little time and effort, and signers were easy to find who would put their honor, blood and fortune on the dotted line when they signed their John Hancock’s on the bottom of that page. The actual independence part was very costly, yes, but the rebellion? That was the easy part.
However, having achieved independence from one set of laws, in order for the colonies to survive, they had to then draft – you guessed it – a new set of laws. And although our Constitution has been the most successful in history (at least by longevity), it is constantly being fought against. The fact that it has survived rebellion as long as it has is a testament to the genius of its writers, and more so, the transcending Divine principles upon which they leaned.
With that context in mind, as we reflect on the popularized phrase about judging, let’s re-state it to reflect the intent in plainer language: “If you’re a Christian, you should never question anything I believe or do.”
Is this what Jesus intended to say? Is that the takeaway he intended for the listener? Did Jesus mean to cast off all judgment of others in the same way our founding fathers of America cast off British rule?
Some people would like to imagine a world in which the Declaration of Independence is written, one set of laws is overthrown, but then the Constitution, a new set of laws, is unnecessary. In other words, the only law is that there should be no law. From there, it’s not hard to see why people would hear Jesus say, “Judge not” and imagine that he meant that there is no standard of right and wrong.
This is impossible, both with the American Revolution, and with Christianity.
Jesus was, in effect, not telling us to cast off all judgment upon others. He was teaching us how to go about it, and the terms by which it is done with God’s approval. There are two primary parts to this.
First, the declaration of independence, if you will, against the wrong kind of judgment: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41). This is his act of rebellion against an unjust practice.
But man cannot live in a law vacuum. There must be a replacement law – a better one. A Divine ordinance.
That’s the second part, the Divine constitution, where Jesus tells us how to judge the right way: “First, take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42).
Jesus declared war, not against judgment, but against wrongful judgment. He then drafted the Divine constitution – the perfect method of making judgments.
In principle, he also declared war on the constant, self-contradictory way that people use his words.